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10 Outdoor, Winter Weather Activities Preschoolers Will Enjoy

The cold and wet weather of the winter months can make us want to cozy up indoors. But, getting outside in the crisp, fresh air of winter can be a refreshing and rejuvenating opportunity for young children to learn and play! In this article, we share ten simple, fun activities to enjoy during the winter months with the children in your care.

Preparing for Cold Weather

As ECE professionals, we know how important it is to maintain the health and safety of children and of ourselves!   Since the onset of COVID-19, many early childhood care and learning providers have found ways to add more outdoor activities into their curriculum. Preparing for cold weather activities with proper clothing to stay warm and dry is always important, but it is especially critical as we continue to battle COVID-19. Here are a few quick tips for ensuring that  everyone stays healthy as you plan to enjoy time outdoors in the winter:

  • Layer Up! Layering is one of the best ways to keep children safe and warm during the cold weather. When children engage in active play, they tend to warm up, so having a few different layers can help them feel warm, but not overheated.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We often think a lot about hydrating during warm weather, but it is just as important when it’s cold! Our bodies need lots of water to keep us healthy. Make sure you always have water available for the children and for yourself. Encourage taking regular water breaks together as a group to ensure that everyone is getting the water they need.

  • Have Spare Clothes Handy! When we are outside in the winter, it’s easy to get wet from the weather or from puddles leftover from rainfall. It is important to remind families to pack extra clothes for children to ensure they have something to change into in case they get wet. Extra socks are especially useful if you plan to explore puddles!

Outdoor Activities for Cold Weather

The activities listed below are free and require minimal (or in some cases, none!) set-up and materials. They are budget-friendly, and accessible for different ages of children, from toddlers to pre-k!

  1. Play I-Spy. Whether you are out on a walk or in your outdoor space, I-Spy is a fun way to invite children to become more observant of the environment around them. Encourage children to look for things that are big, small, brown, green, rough, and smooth! Exploring different colors, textures, shapes, and sizes offers an opportunity to incorporate foundational academic skills as children compare, contrast, and categorize items.

  2. Build a Fort. With a few blankets or large pieces of fabric, encourage children to build simple forts in your yard. Bringing some books into the fort can create a fun environment for reading and storytelling!

  3. Make Bird Feeders. Using a few simple materials, you and the children in your care can easily create simple bird feeders and fill them with animal-friendly treats. Making the bird feeders is a fun activity, and so is watching the birds that come by and visit! You might even encourage children to draw pictures of the birds that they observe to create a display in your classroom. Here are a few different ways to build bird feeders:

  4. Bring Binoculars on your Winter Walk. A simple outdoor walk is always fun with young children. An exciting addition to your adventure is to bring binoculars so that children can get a closer look at plants and animals that you see on your walk. If you do not have binoculars in your classroom, you can purchase child-friendly ones, or make your own “play binoculars” using recycled toilet paper rolls!

  5. Go on a Scavenger Hunt. A scavenger hunt can be done on a walk or in your own yard! Encouraging children to find items like a grey rock or a green leaf is a great way to help children have fun while learning their colors. Create a list of your own or click here to find a free, downloadable scavenger hunt list that can be easily printed.

  6. Collect Rocks. Collecting rocks is always an engaging activity to enjoy with young children. The rocks can be found out on a walk or while playing in your outdoor space. The rocks that children find can then be used for a variety of different activities, such as painting on them, examining them with magnifying glasses, or other art projects.

  7. Enjoy a Picnic. Picnics aren’t just for warm weather! A cold-weather picnic can be just as fun if you prepare by getting bundled up for the cold weather. Bring a blanket and your morning or afternoon snack outside, to enjoy in the crisp air!

  8. Go Puddle Splashing. If the children in your care have rain boots or waterproof shoes, puddle splashing is always a favorite activity. See who can make the biggest splash!

  9. Make Mud Pies. The wet weather often leaves behind moist, wet soil. This mud is perfect for creating mud pies – a fun, messy sensory activity in which children can enjoy the squishy texture between their fingers!

  10.  Paint in Puddles. Water on a sidewalk can become “paint” that works on a variety of outdoor surfaces. Bring along different-sized paintbrushes and encourage children to use the rainwater as paint to create anywhere that is dry!

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